A FORMER squaddie is helping veterans get back into civilian work by heading up a new vegetable growing project at The Hive in Moss Bank Park.

Alun Morris, from Breightmet, is leading the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Good to Grow venture, which aims to offer new skills to those who have left the armed forces.

People can learn to grow vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, chillis and cucumbers in the specialist poly tunnels, before selling them to local businesses across the borough.

The 41-year-old, who served as a training captain in the Oxford University Officer Training Corps, says he was lucky to leave the Army with a trade, but many who do not can find it difficult to secure work.

The project is looking for any former members of the armed forces and their families to get involved with the initiative, which is also designed to engage participants with their community.

Mr Morris said: “Many veterans lose their identity when they leave the life they have known for so many years.

“You don’t realise how much you rely on it, for various reasons, and it can be a daunting task to fit back into normal life outside the bubble.

“There are a lot of people who find it hard to adjust, especially those who do not come out with a specific trade.

“I was lucky as I worked as a nurse before I joined in 1994, so I already had a trade.

“When I left I joined an agency and spent a few years self employed, doing all sorts of different jobs, but not everyone is able to do that.

“The main objective with this project is to allow the ex-service men and women engage with their community and provide them with an opportunity to develop new skills.

“People can attend with their families for as long as they can, and offer as much towards the project as they are able.

“They can decide what they want to do with it too — they could sell the produce to local businesses as it is or make chutneys, jams and jellies. It’s up to them.”

l For more information or to apply for Good to Grow, contact the Lancashire Wildlife Trust on 01204 663754.